Last updated: July 1, 2016
Today was spent working on interpretation at Montezuma Castle. I went out to the main viewing area to help Sam Sharp, who is a volunteer I had met a couple weeks prior. I got to learn more valuable information from Sam and further my interpretation skills. Sam is big on "finding your own story," which basically means that some questions can be answered in different ways and that you have to pick the best way to answer them through your own beliefs, experiences, and knowledge. I mainly let Sam do the talking since I am still new, but I was able to interact with people when Sam was busy; there was often an overflow of people and Sam couldn't interact with everyone at once.
I was then called over to the main interpretation area by park employee Anne Worthington. This area consists of multiple benches covered by shade tarps. Anne offered me and a new park service employee named Jennifer a plethora of knowledge on the area that would be hard to find anywhere else. I even learned some geology on the area;for example, the whole Verde Valley area was one covered by an ocean and the red rocks of Sedona were once sand dunes at the edge of the ocean that rusted over time. I was also surprised to find out that the alcove and divots in the wall where Montezuma Castle is located were created by a creek that ran over the the wall, long ago.
After Anne gave us all of the information she could think of on the area, park employee Laura Burkhart gave a talk at the interpretation station we were at. We got to sit and listen to her talk about different aspects of the dwelling that she was able to witness first hand. She gave an outstanding presentation and really pushed the viewers to think from the perspective of the Sinagua. It's easy to ask "why did they do that?" but once you put yourself in their shoes it makes thing much clearer. For example, I learned that the doorways were so small for the purpose of protection from the elements like wind, cold, or heat;if you don't have a well sealed doorway like in a modern house then you are going to want something smaller. Laura had many pictures of her excursion through the dwelling and one that stood out to me was a handprint on the wall from an actual builder of the dwelling. It is so amazing to me that such an old place has been preserved so well;it's easy to forget that the Sinagua were here so long ago.
After the talk was over I moved back to the front of the dwelling to help Sam with more interpretation. The most common question I got was "how did they get up there?" which is a very viable question with the answer being "ladders". A lot of the younger children seemed to be the most intrigued by it and they had many great questions. A big group of little ones were all asking me questions at once, and it made me delighted that they were so interested and were forming thoughtful questions on their own. There were people from all over the country and the world; it's nice to see people coming so far to enjoy the view of an indispensable piece of history and culture. Thanks to all of the of the guests and rangers for a great day!